As cost-cutting season begins to take shape around the NFL, a major name on the defensive side of the ball is set to hit the open market. The Rams are mutually parting ways with linebacker Bobby Wagner, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).
The 32-year-old was one of the more sought-after veterans last offseason after his storied Seahawks tenure came to an end. He stayed in the NFC West, inking a five-year, $50MM deal. That allowed the future Hall of Famer to head home, though the possibility of a move such as this one remained given the structure of the deal. It came out not long after Wagner signed the Rams pact that the agreement was essentially for two seasons in terms of guarantees, and gave him the option of voiding the final three years.
Wagner was an every-down starter for the Rams this season, logging over 1,000 snaps for the fourth straight campaign. His production (including 140 tackles, six sacks and five pass deflections) earned him second team All-Pro honors. He was also PFF’s highest-graded middle linebacker, a testament to his value even in the waning stages of his career. Wagner will once again find himself amongst the league’s top free agents next month.
Mike Garafolo tweets that this move will not become official until the new league year begins in March. Five days after that point, the contract would have seen Wagner’s 2023 salary of $7.5MM (along with a $2.5MM roster bonus in 2024) become fully guaranteed. He did not waive that clause, per Schefter (Twitter link). Nevertheless, this will save the Rams considerable cap space for each of the next four seasons, including $5MM in 2023.
That figure will be counterbalanced by a dead cap hit of $7.5MM for this season, presuming Wagner’s guarantee remains in place as scheduled. His cap hit was set to spike to $12.5MM in 2023, and remain around that level through the 2026 campaign. Los Angeles will thus save much-needed space as they look to rebound from a disastrous Super Bowl title defense which saw much of the team’s veteran nucleus (including Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald) end the season on the sidelines through injuries. Each of that trio is under contract after signing new deals last offseason, so Wagner represents a more logical release candidate for cost-cutting purposes.
Los Angeles entered today roughly $15MM over the cap, so they will still have work to do in advance of free agency. That period will be an interesting one from their perspective, but also that of Wagner, who received serious interest from the Ravens before choosing to sign with the Rams. Baltimore made a midseason splash at the trade deadline, acquiring Roquan Smith from the Bears and subsequently signing him to an historic extension. Their massive commitment to Smith – along with the presence of former first-rounder Patrick Queen – would make a second pursuit on the Ravens’ part highly unlikely.
No shortage of other teams will be willing to sign the nine-time Pro Bowler, though. A short-term pact with an appropriate amount of guarantees would allow him to fulfil his reported desire of landing on a contender, something the Rams may struggle to re-establish themselves as (even with head coach Sean McVay remaining) barring much better luck on the health front. Los Angeles will move forward with Ernest Jones still in place in the middle of their defense, but a lack of established players alongside him currently under contract. Wagener, meanwhile, will begin assessing his options on the open market.
24 comments on “Rams To Part Ways With Bobby Wagner”
Come home to Seattle Bobby! We made a huge mistake letting you go.
The Bucs nab Wagner. You’ll see.
bucs are rebuilding…I know being a fan its tough to expect that…but dont get your hopes up the firesale is gonna happen
Wagner is probably going to a contender. It very well could’ve happened if Brady stuck around another year, but the Bucc’s aren’t a contender anymore with Brady gone. They have no QB.
Even with Brady, the Bucs were last in the NFC South in points scored, if memory serves, and still finished with a losing record. Brady staying or going really does not matter at this point, I don’t think. With Arians gone as the head coach and the team being ineffective, I don’t think that Tampa will attempt to sustain any further attempt to try and keep that window open. Most of their contributors are veterans, and their younger nucleus of talent is slimmer now than before Brady’s arrival.
If the Bucs were going to resign a great linebacker on the wrong side of 30, presumably they’d just bring Lavonte David back. And Wagner presumably wants to go somewhere with a better chance of contending.
Wasnt this the guy who was real nasty who fingered Carroll after he got knocked out of a game? If thats him I cant recall for sure but hopefully he got fined.
That was Earl Thomas
Nope Wagner has always been a true professional. That was Earl Thomas. He had a reason to be upset with the team but that bird move was a bit over the top. Bobby is a guy anyone would want on their team. Would be nice if he came back to Seattle but not sure they would want him. They have a guy that Carroll wants to play there.
You might consider rephrasing your comment
I like his comment that way. Gives good imagery
I doubt it will happen but I really want the Chargers to sign him
Would be. Good pickup for the Lions! Help the young guys on defense they have already and the new guys they will draft this year.
I’m sure Dan Campbell would love to have him. That would be a great move for them.
Wonder if the Bears take a run at him, he is older, but can help the Bears now while they rebuild the LB core via draft
Would love the Bears t offer a 2 year deal at 10 to 12 million. 5 or 6 million a year is a small price to pay for his experience. He plays every down!!!! We can afford it and he’d be a coach on the field for the new rookie class coming in.
He would never sign with the Bears
Bills! Let Tremaine walk and grab Bobby
That could fit, especially with the Poyer question looming. The Bills, however, want to save some money to handle all of these deals that they’ll have to balance. The thing that is lost here is this: Wagner’s Rams pact was actually pretty cheap for arguably the best inside linebacker in football. He also still has been incredibly durable.
At a time when many less accomplished (but full of potential) younger linebackers want more lucrative long term agreements, Wagner seems to be more focused on the chance to win than the chance to cash in. He could be a difference maker on any defense, even now.
Let’s sign him, Chiefs!
For me as a Lions fan, my first choice would be Tremaine, but Wagner wouldn’t be a bad second option, especially if they can get him to take a two-year deal, with the same AAV he had with the Rams.
Wagner makes any team better. Period. Just whose gonna play to let him play. He wants snaps and dollars. Can’t blame him. Someone will offer both but will they be a contender?
The Redskins need a top tier linebacker to sort out their middle level issues on defense. Bobby Wagner might be just the right LB to take an already very good Washington defense to the next level.